Nicholas paced in his office, his head was blank! He tried his best, tried to attack the problem from different angles but he was stuck, there did not seem to be a way out. The trip back from Dubai had not been eventful, mainly because he had not returned with the others. He had stayed back, he could not sit anywhere close to Faruk for eight hours, there was a possibility he might lose his cool.
He was yet to see Faruk since he returned to Nigeria, he was going to in an hour. He knew he needed a course of action, Faruk had grossly misbehaved and it had cost them a major client. He could not sack him; the press attention was not going to be good for CyberCorp. You don’t fire or demote a company’s President easily, especially when he was recently appointed. Every solution that came to his mind was going to bring a lot of bad press, something he wanted to avoid as much as possible.
He had read that Al Mubarak had already signed a pre-contract with another company. The Arabs evidently did not waste time, something he was doing as he paced.
His ringing phone caught his attention, he walked towards his table and picked the phone. It was his father’s wife. He could not imagine what she wanted, there was no way he was offering her a job.
“Hello ma’am.” He said as he picked the call.
“Hello Nicholas, I know you don’t have time for small talk, so I’ll just go straight to the point.”
“I appreciate that ma.”
“I read in the papers about Al Mubarak signing a pre-contract with another company, you know what that means, right?”
Of course he did, there was nothing good about that pre-contract at all. He did not answer.
“Well, you know other clients, especially those from outside Nigeria will start panicking. ‘If Al Mubarak could leave, there must be something wrong’ that’s what they would think. You know that, right?”
“Yes I know that.” He was irritated with her rubbing his face in the loss. The press did not know why they had lost the clients, there were a lot of speculations, but none of them knew the whole truth.
“Why did he leave, by the way? He knows about your inexperience, doesn’t he? That’s always been an issue for him; I know that because I knew him personally”
Nicholas was getting even more irritated, he was about to ask if there was any particular reason why she called but she continued.
“Look here Nicholas, I know Al Mubarak and he is not one to investigate. I’m sure he did not investigate you when you took over, he values trust and he only cares that you deliver what you promise. So if he knows about your inexperience, somebody leaked that to him. Probably someone from your office.”
She did not know the truth too and Nicholas had no plans of enlightening her.
“We are looking into that. Thank you for your concern, it was nice of you to call.” He was trying to politely end the call, but she was not going to stop talking.
“Have you checked the company your client signed with?” He hadn’t, he had been busy with solving the problem that was Faruk. “I take your silence to mean that you have not, well they’re called Logged-In Incorporated, the name is lame I know, but the press are already calling them the new CyberCorp.”
Nicholas felt very silly for not knowing anything about Logged-In, the name was lame, he agreed with that, but he should know all CyberCorp rivals. He kept quiet, still not knowing where she was going with the conversation.
“I might have a solution to the problem of Logged-In. That is if you are looking for solutions and you don’t mind it coming from me.” He had nothing against advice, but he knew it would cost him something.
“Go ahead, I need all the help I can get.”
“Okay, I have a stake in Logged-In. My late husband bought me ten percent of their company, he saw they were going to be big, and it was nice owning part of your rival’s company. “
What was she saying? Where was she going with this?
“You’re there Nicholas?”
“Yes, I am. Please continue.” He replied quickly.
“Okay, this is what I propose, CyberCorp buys my ten percent and you buy more stocks till you own more than the owners. They own just twenty three percent of the company. I’m the second largest owner.”
“Okay…” He could see where she was going, he was to stage a hostile take-over. “Who would sell their stake in a company like that though?”
“Nicholas, believe it or not, I know people in this industry; people I can convince to sell their stake.”
“Well, I cannot say I don’t like this idea. But you would have to come to the office, we need to discuss this more.” Nicholas could not believe was actually inviting her to the office.
“You know, there’s going to be a price, right?” She was saying.
“We will talk when you come to the office.” His secretary had just entered the office to tell him Faruk was waiting to see him. “Thank you so much for calling, I’ll have my secretary check my schedule and I’ll give you a call.”
He signaled the secretary to let Faruk in. Nicholas sat down as Faruk walked in, he was not sure what to say, he would just have to think on his feet.
“Sit down please, Mr. Abdullahi.” Nicholas said, motioning him to a chair.
“Before you say anything sir, I just want to say that I’m very sorry for what happened in Dubai. I should never have cut you off like I did.”
Nicholas looked at him and nodded. He knew Faruk had a nefarious plan, he and Adam had concluded on it. They knew he was the one who kidnapped Kemi, that could only mean he had something evil planned against him. He was on the watch but was caught off guard at Dubai, a mistake he was not going to make anymore.
“You know Al Mubarak has signed a pre-contract with Logged-In, right?”
“Yes, I read it in the papers.”
“Alright, I need you to find out all you can about them, the owners, the way they work, their biggest clients, everything you can find out.”
He had decided not to scold Faruk, it was not going to do any good anyway. He hoped that Mrs. Babatunde’s plan would work and then Faruk’s blunder would not be very important.
25, NOVEMBER 2015
‘Geeks are the new rock stars’ a poster on the wall read. It was not true of course but such posters are good for your self-esteem. Tola was sitting in her friend’s room, he was a geek; a proud geek. She had been friends with Pete – or Sheldon as she called him – for a long time and he was one of her closest friends. She was sitting in his bedroom. It could pass for an office, a music studio or cyber café, depending on how you looked at the room. Tola believed one of the reasons he still lived with his parents was the fear of having to move all his stuff.
“This is the first time you are asking me to help you with anything techie.” Pete said has he entered the room, a steaming plate of noodles in hand.
“Are you complaining Shelly?” She asked teasing, knowing how much he hated being called Shelly.
“Shelly, really? You know I’m not complaining, I’m surprised, that’s all.”
“Okay, you remember the blog I told you about? Of course you remember, I’ve been getting some anonymous tips about the CyberCorp news that have made me very important.”
“Very important huh? I’m sure the confession you made about being a woman helped a lot too. ‘Popular blogger reveals real gender.’ I was shocked when I saw the headline, that was a publicity stunt huh?”
“It wasn’t o, I was getting calls from people who wanted to advertise on my blog, I knew it was only a matter of time before everybody knew the truth.” Telling the truth had done her more good than evil. Of course, she had been insulted and called names by some, but she believed the saying ‘No publicity is bad publicity’.
“You know I don’t work well with food in my stomach, what do you want exactly?”
“The plate of noodles is not for me?” She feigned a sad face. “Okay, I need you to trace where these emails I keep getting are coming from.”
“Just that? That’s no biggie, lemme get on it, don’t want my noodles to get cold. I have this app that does that in five minutes.” He pulled his laptop from where it was sitting on another laptop. “So do you have any idea who has been giving you these tips?”
“I’m not sure if I do. I’m not sure if it’s coming from inside CyberCorp itself or from somebody very close to the company.”
Ten minutes later, Pete’s app had narrowed the search to a geographical location, the emails were coming from inside the CyberCorp tower.
“Can you get which floor it’s coming from Pete?”
“I think so, it will take longer. My noodles can’t wait though.”
She could not wait either so she agreed to leave him to his work.
Four hours late she got a text from him, the emails were sent from the thirty second floor. That narrowed it down to a few executives. By the time the next email was sent, she was sure she would have her source.
25, NOVEMBER 2015
Adam had woken up with a piece of paper in his pocket. It read;
“No 20, Oke Aja Street
I’m sorry.- R.”
He had gone back into the hospital but Rita was nowhere to be found. He had no idea where the address would lead him but he had made up his mind, he would not let any lead slip. He had to meet the bastard who had knocked him out, he hated cowards who hit people from the back.
The address had led him to a well fenced building; high walls, big gates and a big sign warning him about big dogs. He knew there was no way he was entering the house and he could be wrong, it was possible the house belonged to an innocent but scared citizen. He thought of waiting as he sat on the motorcycle he had borrowed from a friend for the occasion. Waiting was not a good idea, his back still throbbed with pain from the serious beating it had taken, he had to get home or anywhere he could rest.
He kick started the bike and was about leaving when he had the gate open, he looked back and saw an ambulance – the ambulance – come out of the gate. He had never been as happy to see an ambulance since the day he broke his leg in a bicycle accident. He put on his sun shades and helmet, more for disguising himself than for protection and looked away as the ambulance to move past him. He waited till there was a safe distance between him and the ambulance and then followed. Two minutes later they were on the highway, the ambulance had the advantage of a siren and they were took full advantage speeding past cars that had moved out of the way. Adam tried his best to stay close to the ambulance without attracting attention. He skipped past a couple of other road users, one of them cursed at him.
He was tired and the pain in his back was not helping, he released one of the motorbike’s handle, reaching to adjust his helmet and he almost lost his balance as the ambulance veered suddenly to the right. He could not follow the ambulance immediately without drawing the attention of the men in it, so he moved past it, going straight. He was going to join the road at the next turning. He sped to the next turning, he was going to have to make two turns to join the route the ambulance had taken. He was about to make the second turning when he saw the ambulance heading towards him, he thought of making a sharp turn but he would need to be James Bond to make the turn without losing his balance or attracting a lot of attention. He decided to drive past the ambulance.
He kept his eyes forward and tried to look as random as possible. The ambulance moved past him without attempting to knock him over. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw there were three men in front of the ambulance; probably another one of their goons. He stopped and looked back just in time to see the ambulance make a left turn; towards the CyberCorp tower. He turned and moved towards the tower. Kemi was probably still in the ambulance, if the men decided to make a stop he was going to check.
The ambulance indeed was driving to CyberCorp. It pulled into the underground car park and stopped. Adam parked his bike a safe distance away from the underground car park and moved towards it. He stayed close to the wall as he moved, he was not about to be killed in a car park. Ducking behind another car, he looked at the ambulance, it was empty. The men had obviously gone out of it. It was his chance to get to Kemi. He looked around to be sure he was not been watched, satisfied that he was all alone, he crept towards the ambulance. The men were not there.
He moved towards the back of the ambulance, his hope was that she was conscious, he knew it would be doubly difficult if she had to be carried. He pulled the door handle and opened the door.
It was empty.